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Thursday, 24 May 2018

Water Butts – is it really a balance for floods and droughts?

Water Butts – is it really a balance for floods and droughts?

The worst thing about being human is also the best thing! We don’t react/act proactively until the proverbial shit hits the fan! Yes when it comes to fires, over the years we’ve built our communities to have sprinkler systems, quicker access via route planning for Fire Engines, materials that are more resilient to fires/heat damage etc.  Yet all too often we should try and make efforts to deal with problems before they start.

At present UK is having a dry spell with a lot of bright hot weather of direct sunlight bathing the countryside and urban areas of Britain. Within a fortnight our agricultural systems, small holdings, community gardens, back gardens etc. see the early signs of strain as water disappears quickly and we don’t have sufficient back up resources.
Water saving measures is something we often forget. Caught up in standard 70-80 hour weeks that many citizens face up to on a regular basis means our minds are stretched thin juggling multiple tasks, coupled in recent years in explosion in social media that stretches us that little bit more. We forget things, priorities jump queues and non-immediate threats slide down the triage …..
With hot perfect ideal spring & summers becoming potential droughts – it’s time we put some checks & balances into play. If it was mandatory in every city/major town that each household must have a water collection measures – be it;
·       Nature: Water Butts – for gardening, community gardens and expanded managed green spaces
·       Domestic/office: Rainwater collection for toilet flushing, showers etc.
·       Industry: mass retention points for cooling etc.
The opportunities are significant. During drought periods to have a few million litres in water butts ready to bail us out. It’s not really that hard considering that 1 million litres = assuming 150 litre water butt capacity = just over 6,600 water butts; just a few dozen extra Water Butts in every town & city will make a significant difference. What is London has to add in 10,000 new water butts – major fresh rain water resource to help us in the hot/dry season!!
Yet what about the opposite and it floods? Would all these empty water butts help absorb some of the heavy downpours which does hit UK at times. Yet if the 1 million Water Butts are half full at the time have they prematurely outlasted their usefulness? Where else can we put rainwater storage? On every level of high rises? Can City Farms LINK be centres of clean natural rainwater (harvested) resource? If a transport accident resulted in contamination hitting the river eco-system; would 1,000,000 Water Butts who are directed to flush into the river system help dilute the contaminated river? This blog is not presenting solutions – rather inviting you to think about the logistics of rainwater harvesting, when to store, when to use, when to utilise in emergency etc.
When it comes to flooding a more comprehensive approach should be recommended (not just artificial basic mechanisms to capture/hold the rainwater). The excellent Transition Chepstow LINK (part of Transition Town Network) LINK have added in trees to areas renowned for high flooding (and commuter disruption with it) which has helped significantly reduce the pooling/flooding areas due to the hundreds of extra trees grown by the Transition Chepstow volunteers – which has obviously resulted in absorbing excesses of localised rainwater and reduced the significant level of local flooding.
COSTS: always the thing we don’t want to hear! Yet how can you on a basic and very localised start get your rainwater collection initiative started? Recovery of used/discarded Water Butts may be one format forward – be it looking at business junkyards or council skips/recycling centres, using Freecycle LINK, asking amongst your own community if they are imminently about to thrown any water butts out if you can freely recover them?
It all starts with small steps. You may be surprised in your own locale at how many people would wish to get involved in such a project. Its up to you to reach out and find everyone.
Is smart-micro-water-grid and analogy or reflective of an electricity-micro/smart-grid? Can the two work in tandem together – or as a three with heat-smart-grid, or local-food-smart-grid? Is this all the cusp of something bigger to come which we all need to initiate in our own areas ……?
What can you do?

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